Two China Dolls and a Prince!

This blog chronicles the story of 2 of our adoptions, both older children when they came home. It begins in 2008 and will continue in the hopes we can be of encouragement and information to anyone thinking of older child adoption.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Not fun and games anymore.....

For our detractors, who said "you're crazy", when we announced we were adopting a teenager, this post will probably make them smile, pat themselves on the back, and say "I told you so".
But neither will I paint sunshine and roses all the time, when it's not.
At some point since my last post, things have changed.  Not horribly so, but enough so that I, at least, am concerned about NingNing (even more so than before now).  After the initial jump start of using English, that I posted about on the 12th, he quit again, for no apparent reason.
Then this weekend, he's acting like he's totally detached from us; won't engage, won't respond verbally at all; basically doesn't want anything to do with us.  And it all started apparently because Jr got on his case a bit about deleting pictures from my camera (a BIG no-no).  Now, if one of the other kids had done it, we probably would have yelled at them, because they know better.  We know NingNing does not necessarily, so my husband simply asked him not to, but didn't smile as usual when he said it, so N would know he was more serious this time.
Since then, we've had this "detached" behavior.  I discussed the incident with him last night and thought we resolved it; I told him I love all my kids and like to take their pictures so I will have them to look at when they are all grown up.  Perhaps it upset him to be reminded of when he would be on his own someday?  Perhaps the idea frightens him?  Certainly understandable, but it's a fine line between allowing him some "space" and condoning rude behavior (ignoring us as much as possible all day).  Is he a typical teen?  Oh yeah!  Teen attitude?  Yeah, it's there!  Are the rose-colored glasses beginning to crack?  Definitely....
So here I sit, at 4am, typing, worrying, considering,thinking, worrying some more........if our bio son were acting this way, we'd let him have his space, but eventually demand at least a minimum of respecful behavior.  We expect no less of NingNing at this stage of the process.
The biggest challenge is figuring out what the problem is when the person in question is not sharing their feelings; is he mad at us, mad at himself, both?  Or is he depressed; sad; maybe missing when he celebrated holidays in China (though we know they didn't do much where he was).  Or just maybe the whole family togetherness was too much; maybe he felt (even now) that he still didn't quite belong when we got on to him about the camera.  It's like playing 20 questions, but with no real solution, and a lot more at stake.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Our son said "I love you".......

to the INTERNET GUY!!!!!
Let me explain.....the kids got home from school and lo and behold the internet wasn't working.  NingNing and our 7-year old didn't know what to do with themselves.  It turned out to be the best thing, because he and Judi and Jazmin all spent the afternoon wrestling, playing, tickling, and rolling around on the floor together.  Then the girls latched themselves each onto a leg and NingNing was trying to walk with 100 lbs on his legs!  He was in rare form tonight, bouncing around, playing with everybody...even Mom got in on the tickle fest (side note....this boy is getting strong!  Mom won't be his wrastle partner too often, lol!).
Then Dad comes home from hunting and says "I'm hungry!", whereupon NingNing says "Me, too!".  After we ate, our internet guy came over to see what was wrong.....he got it fixed and as he was walking out the door, NingNing says "yay..I love you!".  I shut the door and headed right for the boy!  I said, "NingNing!  The INTERNET guy?  I love you?  Seriously?!!?  What about Mama??!!"  He laughed, looked at me, and said "I LOVE YOU!"  This kid is hysterical.

Now on to an amazing development....NingNing can read English!  A few nights ago, I was typing into Google Translate and he began to read some of the words, so I kept going...but this gave me an idea.
The next night I got out some Dr. Suess books, "Go, Dogs, Go" and "Hop on Pop".  I gave the first one to NingNing, then I logged onto Google Translate.  My intention was to type the words on the pages, translating them and providing instant comprehension.  However, as we began, NingNing amazed me by reading a good deal of the words on his own!  I wound up only typing the harder words to help him along.
Tonight we did Go, Dogs, Go again AND Hop On Pop.  He had us laughing so hard because he uses this squeaky, high-pitched voice to read the words and it. is. hysterical!  The video is of him reading one page....that's all we could get him to sit still for because he was chuckling so much!

And in other happenings.....
This is what happens when two skinny boys wrestle..they get tangled!

James (our 15-year old) and a friend at their NHS induction ceremony...he is growing into a young man before our eyes.

Our sweet babies playing in the leaves at Grandpa and Grandma's house

NingNing enjoying a fire engine ride on Halloween

Jessica at her college visit

I missed blogging on a couple of interesting and fun events....Oct. 20 we got together with the two other families of NingNing's friends, Zane and Seth.  We were at the park for 5 hours!  But it was such fun, and now that I think back, it was around then and after a sleepover at Seth'[s house the next weekend, that we noticed a  change in NingNing.  We think we are finally seeing the "real" NingNing; there is a noticeable change in his demeanor.  He smiles more, laughs with us, is talking MUCH more, in Chinese AND English, and really engaging with all of us more, especially Jr.  They tease each other and wrestle and are establishing a good bond; he just seems so much more relaxed.  It's hard to explain; I mean, we thought he was doing well before, but now we see just how much more at peace he seems.
Lately, we were talking about China....he was showing us some pictures of his classmates and he was describing some of his life before.  The conversation led us to the point where I felt comfortable asking him why he chose to be adopted and leave China.  He stopped and thought a moment and then said...."I just wanted a home...."....after I gathered myself, I told him he had one now.....forever....and we are so glad he made that choice.
Hangin' at the picnic (ok, I stole these pics from Seth's mom's blog-Richard takes awesome pics!).  The soccer one they sent to's my favorite!

This is what NingNing is really like....a comedian!

I love this picture!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Halloween, school, and sleepovers

It is November...where has the time gone?  3 months will soon have passed since Gotcha Day.  Soon we will explain Thanksgiving and Christmas to NingNing.  We plan to approach these holidays from a Christian standpoint, that Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on all the blessings in our lives and Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ, but that we celebrate God's love for us by giving presents to those we love.  We'll also talk about Santa but in the vein of a mythical figure the girls still believe in as I can just imagine what NingNing might think about a fat man with a beard squeezing down a chimney (and what is a chimney anyway, he'd probably think) and leaving all these gifts.  He would think we'd gone off the deep end for sure.

Over the almost two weeks since I've posted, we've continued with soccer practices and games, watched our son, James, be inducted into the National Honor Society, sent NingNing off on his first sleepover (at Seth's house), got Jessica signed up at her community college for the fall,  saved one of our dogs from certain death (me getting in the middle of a dog fight-stupid, I know-but I saved our dog), and introduced NingNing to Trick or Treating.

One of my concerns over the last couple of weeks is how quiet and almost emotionless at times NingNing still seems with us.  He is so animated around his friends, which is understandable, but as soon as he's back with just us, it's like a switch is flipped.  He will still interact, but just very self-contained and quiet.  I was beginning to fear attachment issues......I mean, unattachment doesn't have to be blatant, does it?  Then something would happen; he would laugh or play a game with us, or wrestle with Jr or James, and I'd think, well, all is ok then.
One thing I've learned through (our) older child adoption experience, and perhaps it's just the worrier in me, is the roller coaster of wondering about the effect everything we do has on NingNing.  In October, this was particularly bad for me as I second-guessed everything we did and said; I analyzed it all and would rehearse what I wanted to say if we needed to talk with him. 
In the last week however, we've noticed Ning using much more English at home.....just single words or two strung together, but it's progress!  It also has made things easier to communicate as he understands so much of what we say directly now.  I have also made a conscious decision to just relax and let things unfold and work themselves out, which seems to be helping my ability to sleep!

Halloween night was the first time I think Ning opened up almost totally to us and showed us how silly he can be.  We were at our church event and he catches my attention and says "go hoooooome!"(his current favorite phrase).  Finally we head for the door and he's bouncing and skipping out the door, so I decided to have some fun and show MY silly side a little.  So I said to him, "NingNing, I think we should go.......SHOPPING!".  He stopped dead, grabbed his head with his hands, and in a hysterical voice I've never heard before, says "NOOOOOOOO".  Then Jazmin gets into the act and says "let's go to.......SCHOOL!", whereupon he repeats his act.  As we pulled away,we were all laughing our heads off by this time.  We then stopped at a subdivision real quick to do some houses, and he goes. "NO......GO HOOOOOME!" in that same funny voice.  Judi and Jessica got out to T&T, and Jaz talked Ning's ear off so much, he finally bailed from the car and went with the other two!  I think he really had fun, but probably wouldn't admit it.  He didn't want to dress up and wouldn't take any candy for himself.  Not a big candy eater, but put a package of cookies or marshmallows near the boy, and they will be gone in a New York minute!

He had his first sleepover with his friend in the city (how come friends' houses are always more fun than home???) and had a blast, of course,complete with a pillow fight. However, I love the fact that when he wants to "GO HOOOOOME", he means our house, with us.  How can that not make a person feel good, that this young boy, who didn't know us from Adam 3 months ago, now thinks of us as his family and our house his home? 

School is going ok for the most part; one thing NingNing has had to learn is that what was ok in China is NOT ok here.  For instance, one kid at school tries to be TOO much of a friend, and NingNing wanted to handle the situation as he would have in China....he would have punched the kid out.  We trotted out the well-used spiel about how that is not acceptable and that HE would get in trouble and then MAMA would not be happy!  Where he went to school, there were around 3,000 students.  Fighting....oh, yeah.....bullying.....of course.....fend for yourselves?.....basic survival 101. Now he has to learn to turn the other cheek and also (and this is the biggie) trust an adult and/or authority figure to take care of the problem......he is making great strides in this area.

Another area we've had some progress is clothes.   NingNing is now wearing sleep pants to bed...MUCH more comfortable than jeans!  Then we took him to a happenin' store called Rue21; they have really hip clothes.  I showed him some plaid shirts like the ones he brought from China, but he said no to them (puzzling).  As kind of a joke, I pulled out a psychedelic black shirt with a huge ornate white cross on the front and back.  To my utter surprise, he liked it and THEN picked out a white hat with a red cross of similar design (interesting that he picked a cross symbol) and has ACTUALLY worn them!  Now to just work on new jeans :).

More pics will be coming soon!